We spent about 6 hours yesterday between getting to church, church, and stopping at Smolniy Cathedral. So, that was pretty much our Sunday.
Nolan’s day was made today when he finally caught a pigeon.
All the mothers in the park out with their young children were appalled
Today, we also hit up the oldest banya in the city. A banya is basically a steam sauna. It is a quintessentially Russian experience and involves a very hot and humid room, a birch leaf bundle, and a very cold pool. We booked a family suite and once again, we had a great time. Add with our previous sauna trip, Margaret was the first to embrace the experience.
The plunge pool was a little deep and a little cold for the kids at first, and they weren’t up to sitting in the sauna for long, so they made do as they could (see photo below)
Later, we took in the church called Savior on the Spilled Blood.
The inside was pretty incredible with floor-to-ceiling mosaics covering every inch. Many familiar Bible scenes.
The detail in the mosaics near the altar was even more stunning though.
On a separate note, we are trying to teach the kids a few things about the places we visit. Ashley started to tell them about the Siege of Leningrad (as St Petersburg was known under communism) during WWII the other night, but then they were to scared to sleep alone.
If you haven’t heard about the siege, it’s one of many terrible and tragic events suffered by Russia during the war. The Nazis laid siege to the city for nearly 3 years. Hundreds of thousands starved to death. As things got worse and worse, their rations dwindled to 4 oz of “bread”, most of which was made of sawdust and other undigestible materials. People scraped and ate the glue from the back of wallpaper, boiled and ate shoe leather, and better it was all over, many had turned to cannibalism.
No nation suffered during WWII like the Russians. They remember it as the Great Patriotic War and celebrations of Victory Day are a big deal every year.
For a good listen, try Dan Carlin’s Ghosts of the Ostfront https://youtu.be/upAzM5Mduvw